Authorities in King County, Washington, home to Seattle, are urging its 2.2 million residents to work from home and those over 60 to stay indoors as the coronavirus has confirmed to have infected 31 people there and killed nine, so far.
For those not fully informed, rumors and panic have begun to take hold.
Per the Los Angeles Times:
Parents keep their children inside. Few people shake hands anymore. More than two dozen firefighters remain in quarantine. Restaurants and hair salons are close to empty.
Such is life in Kirkland, Wash., the suburb just east of Seattle known for its folksy downtown and spectacular lakefront views, but now above all as the U.S. epicenter of COVID-19.
Of the 11 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus epidemic, eight were residents of a local nursing home that is struggling to care for others who may have been infected. An additional death occurred at a Kirkland hospital.
“I can’t kiss my kids,” said Hamid Dabbaghian, a 48-year-old cashier at the Kirkland Whole Foods who recently moved here from Iran and feared catching the virus from customers. “As a newcomer to the U.S., I’m worried about my family, and worried that if I die, what will they do.”
Though it doesn’t have the devastating prognosis associated with Ebola, coronavirus has a fatality rate of 3.4% – significantly higher than the regular flu.
The key when responding to potential health crises should always be the same: educate yourself, practice good hygiene, and don’t panic.